Barbados?emerged the inaugural champions of the UWI Twenty20 Festival by beating arch-rivals and defending Caribbean T20 winners Trinidad and Tobago by five wickets at the 3Ws Oval on Friday night.
Watched by over 1 500 spectators who packed the picturesque ground nestled inside the University at Cave Hill, the Bajans overhauled Trinidad and Tobago’s total of 135 for nine, replying with 136 for five with seven balls to spare.
The margin of Barbados’ victory might look simple but it was anything but, as it needed a level-headed approach by new Barbados captain Kirk Edwards for the target to be achieved.
Many feel that the T20 format is not suited to Edwards’ style of batting but he sensibly anchored Barbados’ run-chase.
Opening the innings in place of Dale Richards, Edwards steered his team to victory to be unbeaten on 42 from 54 balls with one boundary after Barbados stuttered at the start to be 28 for three by the sixth over.
Crowd favourite Dwayne Smith (9) – scorer of three consecutive half-centuries in the Festival, Ryan Hinds (1) and Jonathan Carter (5) were all gone.
The rocking ship was first steadied by a 35-run fourth-wicket stand from 31 balls between keeper Shane Dowrich and Edwards.
Dowrich – a man with a definite future in West Indies cricket – outscored his captain in the stand, contributing 20 runs from 13 balls before he cut Kevon Cooper high to third man with the score on 63 for four and the game still in the balance.
The initiative was completely taken away from the visitors when heavy-set Alcindo Holder joined his captain in a stand that took the home team within ten runs of the championship.
Taking the cue from his skipper, Holder, rather than trying to blast the disciplined bowling, took to quick running between the wickets, and his important 23 came from 25 balls with only one boundary.
When Holder was dismissed with victory in sight, the fifth-wicket stand had realized 63 runs from 49 balls and only two boundaries.
Of concern to the men from the Land of the Humming Bird with the tournament starting tomorrow in Antigua was their fielding, as at least five catches were dropped which would have definetly made a difference to the result.
On the other hand, Barbados would have been heartened by their overall fielding.
Pacer Tino Best, roaring in from the Ramadhin and Valentine End, rocked the visitors with three early wickets, two to magnificent catches.
Adrian Barath, cutting, was caught by the tall Carlos Brathwaite jumping high at third-man just inside the ropes, while Darren Bravo, trying to muscle Best out of the ground, sent a high swirling catch at mid-wicket which was hauled in low down by a sprinting and athletic Ashley Nurse.
Best had earlier cleverly deceived Lendl Simmons with a slower ball to rock his stumps, and the Trinidad and Tobago innings needed repairing at 27 for three in the fifth over.
This revival was emphatically led by all-rounder Cooper who counter-attacked, smashing four sixes and two fours in his 57 from 41 balls.
He and Sherwin Ganga saved face for the visitors in a stand of 56 for the sixth wicket with the latter only contributing seven runs.
The innings of the tall and strongly built Cooper was crucial, as only Simmons (10) and Jason Mohammed (17) reached double figures.
Best took three for 26 from four pacy overs, with Sulieman Benn, Brathwaite and Nurse grabbing two wickets each.
In the evening’s first encounter, Combined Campuses and Colleges gained their first victory of the tournament by defeating C.O. Williams All Stars by 69 runs in a lacklustre game to decide third place.
Batting first on winning the toss, CCC racked up 165 for seven, with all-rounder Kyle Mayers performing well with the bat once again. Left-handed Mayers (59) struck three sixes and five fours off 33 balls.
Ryan Wiggins and Floyd Reifer both scored 38 to bolster the total while Dane Currency once again bowled well to take three for 41.
The All Stars batted with little enterprise, with only Raymon Reifer (36 not out) and Nekoli Parris (25) featuring.